Game Writing: Storytelling through Video Game Design
4.3 (418 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
2,736 students enrolled

Game Writing: Storytelling through Video Game Design

Write and design your own games; develop ideas, character and plot to create a compelling storyworld. (Made with Unity).
4.3 (418 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
2,736 students enrolled
Last updated 11/2019
English
English [Auto]
Current price: $90.99 Original price: $129.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • 11 articles
  • 44 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Write and design games.
  • Understand what’s unique about writing for games.
  • How to create in-depth gameworlds.
  • What contributes to a memorable narrative.
  • How story is conveyed through games.
  • How to develop your idea from conception through to story.
Requirements
  • Your preferred writing tools.
  • A desire to entertain through story and games.
  • Willingness to explore ideas and exercise your imagination!
Description

The course will help you to design and write your own games - learn how to generate and develop your ideas, how to structure a story-rich game, and how creating a narrative and storyworld will enhance all games, even those that are not story based! 


Learn to create a compelling storyworld for your video game by developing ideas, characters and a memorable narrative. You’ll be given knowledge and tasks to cement and practice what you’ve learned.


Create Immersive Storyworlds

  • Understand how writing for games differs from writing for other media.

  • Learn which aspects of a game contribute to a memorable narrative.

  • Discover how story is conveyed through games.

  • Practice developing an idea from start to end.


Storytelling: Arguably the Most Important Aspect of Game Design.

Games that are “story-rich” have a deep story to uncover as you play the game, and have an extra dimension compared to other forms of media in that the player themselves is a part of that story.

The storyworld makes up so much of a game and it is communicated in many different ways. It’s everything from the artwork and the audio design to the dialogue between characters and the player themselves. As a game designer or a game writer, you are responsible for shaping this world and conveying it to the player.

 

Content Overview 

This course aims to help you develop your skills as a designer of games. We’ll talk about what makes games a unique form of media, how to tell good stories, how to generate ideas, and how story can be conveyed through games (spoiler: there are LOTS of different ways!). These are the core sections of the course, and we’ll be adding bonus sections soon.


Story structure will be the first bonus (coming soon!) and each new section will provide new ways to improve your game design techniques.


Each of the course videos is made using the Unity game engine, and we communicate information within this game setting.

 

As well as video lectures, this course contains ‘Reflection’ moments where we ask you to pause and think about what your answers to specific questions would be, “Missions” where we ask you to do some writing (and then show you our own example), and worksheets to guide your ideas.

 

We also encourage you to share your ideas and give feedback to others.

 

Once you complete this course, you’ll be able to design story-rich games using various different methods to convey your ideas.


Who this course is for:
  • Game designers and Indie game developers wanting to integrate captivating story in their own games.
  • Aspiring and professional writers looking to develop stories in the context of games.
  • Game enthusiasts who are curious about storytelling in games.
Course content
Expand all 40 lectures 02:24:46
+ What is a Game?
5 lectures 14:26

The objective of this course is to equip you with the tools and knowledge to confidently develop your own entertaining and engaging video games through stories. In this section, we start by exploring:

  • In broad terms, What is a game?

  • What it takes to put together a game.

  • Why story is of central importance.

In this video, we will explore:

  • Different mediums through which we absorb and tell stories.

  • How video games compare with these mediums.

  • How video games offer active choice-based experiences for players.

Preview 02:31

In this video, we will explore:

  • Definitions of video games that include interaction and choice.

  • That the game designer/writer is crucial in creating the possibilities for the player.

  • The different devices on which games can be played.

  • Single and multiplayer possibilities for gameplay.

  • The different varieties of game types out there, from 2D platformers, to sandbox games.

Preview 03:37

In this video, we will explore:

  • What Game Mechanics are.

  • How game mechanics relate to the ‘rules’ of gameplay.

  • Understanding game mechanics through examples.

The attached WORKSHEET offers the opportunity to reflect and explore interesting game mechanics. We suggest some ideas for you to run with, but you can of course choose to develop your own original ideas. This reflection is designed to encourage you to start thinking of things from the players point of view, and how your ideas can make a game fun to play.


Game Mechanics
02:13

In this video, we will explore:

  • What games you like and why you think that is.

  • Examples of our own favourite games, and why, just to get you thinking.

  • What games you don’t like, and why, as well as your thoughts on how they could be improved upon.

The attached WORKSHEET details the questions about your favourite and least favourite games. These tasks are designed to help you consider what it is that makes games work, or not.

Why Story is Important I
03:13

In this video, we will explore:

  • Some of the realities of making games and why it makes sense to pay attention to story.

  • How story will strengthen your game through depth of meaning.

  • That story is communicated through every aspect of a game.

  • How you, the game designer/story creator are in charge of the ‘map of possibilities’  

Why Story is Important II
02:52
+ Storytelling - The Basics
4 lectures 13:06

In this video, we will explore:

  • The meaning of ‘story lite’ vs ‘story rich’ and what kind of game you are looking to create.

  • Examples of ‘story lite’ and ‘story rich’ games.

A summary of what we will be exploring in this section:

  • What our destination looks like: the creation of a rich storyworld for your game.

  • The difference between story, plot and narrative.

  • The importance of structuring a story.

  • What fuels a story?

Preview 02:09

In this video, we will explore:

  • What a storyworld is, as shown through examples.

  • The importance of tone.

  • Crucial questions any storyworld creator must be able to answer about the game world they are creating.

  • Thinking beyond the game to the wider ‘world’ of the game and how this adds depth to your game.

Preview 02:40

In this video, we will explore:

  • The story as all events in the game.

  • The plot as the player’s linear journey through the story.

  • The narrative as how the story and plot are conveyed.

  • Examples of different games.

The Difference Between Story, Plot and Narrative
03:07

In this video, we will explore what gives a plot forward momentum, thereby making the game you create more engaging for players. We will explore:

  • The direction and structure of a story.

  • How this is driven forward by the game (and therefore the player) having a clear goal.

  • The need to be clear on ‘what is at stake’ i.e. What happens if the player is unsuccessful in their mission.

  • How to think about ‘what is at stake’ to make sure the goals of the game have emotional resonance.

  • The importance of escalation in terms of player engagement.

The WORKSHEET offers an opportunity for you to reflect on your own ideas for your game, what is at stake and what conflict there is in your game. You will also have the opportunity to reflect on your favourite game and how the story/game escalates from beginning to end, as a way of informing your own approach.  

What Fuels a Plot?
05:10
+ Start with an Idea!
4 lectures 12:46

In this video, we will explore:

  • How ideas don’t arrive fully formed.

  • How ideas develop.

A summary of what we will be exploring in this section:

  • Ways to generate ideas.

  • How to communicate ideas effectively.

  • How to keep track of ideas.

  • Ways to develop your ideas further.

Introduction
01:22

In this video, we will explore:

  • That there is no one ‘right’ starting point and you will find what works for you and your specific project.

  • An awareness of what your role in the game’s creation is and how this impacts your idea development.

  • Possible starting points for idea generation, including the question ‘What if?’, along with other starting areas like character, goal, world/setting, game mechanics and theme.

The WORKSHEET offers the opportunity to reflect on your favourite games or film and consider the ideas behind it; asking yourself ‘what if…?’ and exploring trigger sentences as a way of deconstructing and generating ideas.

Generating Ideas
02:37

In this video, we will put into practice the ideas explored so far. Your mission here is to generate your own ideas. The WORKSHEET offers the opportunity to generate your own ideas for a game, asking yourself ‘what if…?’ and exploring trigger sentences.

You will also have the opportunity to explore the elements that will combine to create your own storyworld. In the video, we offer some examples of our own ideas. The emphasis here is really to get you creating.  

Generating Ideas Missions
03:35

In this video, we will explore:

  • Why clear communication is important as a game designer/story creator.

  • How best to summarise an idea for maximum clarity.

  • Different kinds of summaries for different situations.

The WORKSHEET sets you your mission to build on your previous idea development and take the next step of summarising your ideas clearly so that you are able to get a good overview of your game, and are well placed to communicate your ideas/game to other people.

How to Communicate Ideas Effectively
05:12
+ Conveying Story Through Games
5 lectures 27:15

In this video, we highlight the components that combine to convey story through games (which will each be explored in this section), which includes:

  • The goal

  • Game mechanics

  • Characters

  • Dialogue

  • Setting

  • Level design

  • Sound design

We will also explore:

  • Exposition

  • Story triggers

  • Cut scenes

Introduction
01:11

In this video, we will explore:

  • That the goal is ‘What the player needs to do’, why this is crucial to the game and story, and the importance of the game’s goal being active and involving.

  • That the game mechanics are ‘How the player does it’ and the importance of weaving in orientation time for the player.

The WORKSHEET sets you your mission to develop the player’s goal in your game/story. This mission invite you to articulate what the player needs to do and why, how you orientate your player and how you ensure the building of player skills is gradual.

The Goal and Mechanics
04:03

In this video, we will explore:

  • The important division of characters into POV characters and NPC (non-player characters.

  • How characters are a crucial part of the story and story-delivery through interacting with the player.

  • How dialogue needs to convey and fit with the tone of the game.

The WORKSHEET offers the chance to reflect on a game you like and the characters within it, exploring whether the characters fit within the game, what makes them do so (or not), and whether you can see any aspects that could be improved upon.

You will explore your own game and what characters you can imagine populating it, what makes your characters interesting, how they communicate and fit within the broader game.


Characters and Dialogue
04:40

In this video, we will explore:

  • The setting as the time and place in the story/game.

  • The importance of conveying style and tone through the visual (and all!) aspects of the game.

  • The progression of story and visual information communicated to the player through ‘level design’.

  • Maintaining the right balance between interest and understandability by having your game progress and evolve.

  • How sound design can impact a gaming experience, including ambiance, tone and immersion.

  • How these elements add up to form a coherent whole.

The WORKSHEET invites you to reflect upon the setting, style and tone of a game and explore what it is that you think works well. The worksheet sets you a mission to think about a setting for your game and what that would look like, and then for you to further develop this by considering what it might sound like, keeping in mind the player experience.

Visual and Audio Design
07:38

In this video, we will explore:

  • What exposition is and how there are overt and subtle ways to use this as a tool to express story relevant information.

  • What ‘story triggers’ are and how they integrate story information into the game.

  • What ‘cut scenes’ are and how they offer a passive experience for the player.

The WORKSHEET mission is for you to explore your own ideas on how best to deliver story information in your game/story and how you will communicate information organically in a way that works for your game.

Delivery
09:43
+ Story Structure
11 lectures 53:31

In this section, we explore:

  • What structure is

  • Why it is important

  • Different structure models

  • How to use structure models when developing your game.

In this video we focus on how best to approach structure while developing story for your game.

Introduction
01:17

In this video, we will explore:

  • What structure is, and

  • Why it is important.

This includes:

  • The idea of structure as a roadmap between two points

  • Variety of pace and action

  • The importance of success and failure

  • Balancing ability levels

  • Escalation

  • Open ended and open world games

The WORKSHEET sets you your mission to develop the 'points on your map'. In other words, developing the structure of your game, including starting point, destination and the 'fuel' (motivation) for the game journey.

What is Structure and Why is it Important?
10:14

In this video, we will explore:

  • Linear story structure applied to branching storylines

  • What anchors you on the structure journey?

  • The need to keep in mind player emotions.

  • How backstory can help engage the Player.

The WORKSHEET gives you the opportunity to explore the emotional aspects and the player's experience of your game.

Branches, Anchors and Emotions
05:50

In this video, we will explore the Beginning, middle and end structure model.


Structure Models: Beginning, Middle and End
06:39

In this video, we will explore a linear structure template for stepping out or analysing a story idea, using a couple of game examples.

The attached RESOURCES offer an overview of the structure template.

Structure Models: Linear Structure Guidelines
09:41

This is a REFLECTION article designed to:

  • get you reflecting upon the structure of a game or a level you have played,

  • develop your game ideas in the context of a beginning, middle and end, and

  • develop them even further in a more expanded linear framework.

The WORKSHEET attached includes the same information as the lecture, along with space for you to include your ideas.


Reflection: The Structure of a Game/Level
03:14

This is a MISSION article designed to clarify your thoughts about the beginning, middle and end of your story/game (or within a level).

The WORKSHEET attached includes the same information as the lecture, along with space for you to include your ideas.



Mission: Beginning, Middle and End
02:26

This is a MISSION article designed to clarify your thoughts about the linear structure of your own game.

The WORKSHEET attached includes the same information as the lecture, along with space for you to include your ideas.


Mission: Linear Structure Guidelines
03:33

In this video, we will explore the classic hero’s journey structure model, including a game example.

Structure Models: The Hero's Journey
04:58

This is a MISSION article. Your mission is to step out the journey of your main character according to the Hero’s Journey.

The WORKSHEET attached includes the same information as the lecture, along with space for you to include your ideas.

Mission: The Player's Journey
02:14

In this video we will discuss how to apply the previously explored structure guidelines to your game:

  • As a way of generating ideas

  • As a diagnostic tool

How to Use Structure when Developing Your Game
03:24
+ Developing Your Characters
6 lectures 17:07

The aim of this section is to consolidate and build upon your ideas about character, with a particular emphasis on composing your own characters.

Introduction: The Player P.O.V.
03:23

In this video we explore character, including what makes someone who they are, and what makes a memorable character.

In the WORKSHEET you will have the opportunity to REFLECT on characters and what makes them tick. 

Exploring Characters
03:14

This is a MISSION article. It invites you to build a main character for your own game idea.

The WORKSHEET attached includes the same information as the lecture, along with space for you to include your ideas.

Mission: Build a Protagonist
02:30

This article offers our own example of developing a character for our game Relic by using the questions explored in the previous section.

RELIC Character
04:06

This is a MISSION article. It invites you to build an antagonist for your own game idea.

The WORKSHEET attached includes the same information as the lecture, along with space for you to include your ideas.

Mission: Build an Antagonist
01:05

In this video, we get you to think about the world you're creating, including:

  • Non-player characters and what they add to the mix

  • The importance of diversity

Populating your Game
02:48
+ Genre and Audience Expectation
3 lectures 05:56

This is a super short section about genre, audience expectations and how these things can guide your game creation. We touch on:

  • What is genre?

  • The importance of genre in guiding expectations

Introduction: What is Genre?
01:55

In this article, we look at a selection of genres, noting their common characteristics, what emotion they tend to elicit in the player, and an example of a game in the category.

The INFO SHEET attached includes the same information as the lecture.

Genre Characteristics
02:40

This MISSION article offers the opportunity for you to explore your game in relation to genre and audience expectations.

The WORKSHEET attached includes space for you to explore your ideas.

Your Game and Audience Expectations
01:21
+ Bonus
2 lectures 00:37
Final Thoughts
00:20
Bonus Lecture: Jenny's Other Courses
00:17